Californian rock band Weezer has been changing up their sound since their formation in 1992, and their new album OK Human is no exception. In a caption posted on their Instagram, Weezer says “OK Human was made at a time when humans-playing-instruments was a thing of the past… We used our instruments to connect to the 1960’s and 1970’s and, with the orchestra, bath to the 18th and 19th centuries.” Despite the shifts in style, Weezer keeps their characteristic vulnerability and skill of writing songs as catchy as they are personal. OK Human was something of a surprise album, announced January 18th and dropped on the 29th—especially so because Weezer still plans to release the long-awaited Van Weezer on May 7th.
“All My Favorite Songs” was dropped as a single about a week before the album, and opens OK Human with an upbeat tempo and contrasting downhearted lyrics: “All my favorite songs are slow and sad, I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” The clever mix of Cuomo’s almost-poppy vocals with the orchestral backing ties this song together, as well as the rest of the album. This record also features an impressive emotional range—such as from slower, melancholy “Numbers” to “Screens.” The latter is one of the most happy-sounding tracks on the album, starting with a quick drumbeat and memorable guitar riff that lead into the backbone of the song: the violin. Reference-filled “Grapes of Wrath” is my favorite song from OK Human. It balances aspects of Weezer’s usual rock/alt sound with that of the orchestra, creating a song that is simultaneously Weezer’s style and something completely innovative.
My favorite aspect of this entire album may be the transitions from song to song. Multiple song combinations flow seamlessly from one to the next, including “Playing My Piano” into “Mirror” and “Grapes of Wrath” into “Numbers.” These transitions as well as the constant presence of the orchestra really make OK Human a cohesive concept album. “Grapes of Wrath” repeats the lines “I just don’t care / I’m barely there,” tying up the theme of alienation that saturates the record.
Weezer’s openness to experimentation and change, as well as their endearing vulnerability, makes OK Human a remarkable album, and one that I’ll probably be listening to quite a bit in the future. Hopefully some of these songs make their live debut during the Hella Mega Tour, which Weezer is headlining with Green Day and Fall Out Boy in 2021.